Marijuana enthusiasts in Colorado and Washington should postpone their celebration of new voter initiatives that legalized the drug in each state.The Obama administration might take legal action against the states to undermine their new laws since marijuana use is still illegal under federal law, The New York Times reported Thursday.
“In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance,” Seattle-based U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said the day before Washington’s law went into effect. “Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6 in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.”
Marijuana use officially became legal in Washington Thursday.
Durkan also said the Department of Justice is reviewing the changes and its “responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged,” the Times reported.
If it does decide to take action, the administration could bring cases against low-level pot users, file lawsuits against the states, or even go so far as to cut off federal aid to the states until the questionable initiatives are repealed.
But a harsh stand against weed might be a bad political move for the president, who was re-elected by liberal Democrats.
Such a move would be “a slap in the face to his base right after they’ve just handed him a chance to realise his presidential dreams,” University of Texas at Austin political science professor Bruce Buchanan told the Times.
If the feds do decide to target marijuana users, they might not have too much help from local law enforcement.
Police in Seattle have taken a pretty lax stance toward the new law, telling residents cops won’t immediately start targeting people smoking a joint in public.